Whether you want software for engaging parents or for documenting children’s learning, it can be tricky to find the right one that meets all your needs.
Before your early learning service invests in software, think about whether the program you’ve got your eye on is a good fit to help your business grow and function more efficiently. Here are some things to keep in mind as you narrow down your choices:
1. The software is only for administration, not educational needs
Sure, an online admin system will save on paper, so you can keep computerised records for compliance such as for daily sheets (routines) and attendees. But why stop there?
It would make sense to have such a system that also is the foundation to inform learning, plus update and engage parents. However, having settings that let you manage what you share with parents with or without supervisor approval is also useful. Software should allow you to communicate with parents as they expect – in real time, anywhere and at any time your service is operating.
If your service isn’t familiar with using software that ticks the boxes for both admin and educational needs, check out what others have said about one that does.
2. You can’t connect each child’s learning progression
You’d want all your teaching staff to be up to date with observations on children in your service. Sharing and storing that information should be easy in the software.
You’d also save time if each child’s portfolio can link learning stories and focus on set goals, in particular the curriculum and Early Years Learning Framework, state guidelines or even your own curriculum. That will clearly show the connections between the goals and what children have learned. It’s a great way to give parents deep insights into their children’s progress and means they’re able to support their learning beyond your service, too. With Educa you can ‘document and share’ with parents with one click. That’s a handy feature.
Keep in mind there’s two types of parent-teacher communication – one-way and two-way exchanges, according to influential sociologist Peter Ludwig Berger. One-way exchanges let parents know what’s happening in the classroom – usually that’s through tools such as a letter of introduction, newsletters and reports. Meanwhile, two-way exchanges help foster a conversation with parents – sharing concerns, working out solutions and celebrating achievements.
Much research shows that strong parent-teacher partnerships can help children develop positive self-esteem and be motivated to learn. Read more tips about good parent-teacher communication in early childhood education here.
Amber Enright, Educational Leader with Edge Kids Life talks about Educa as creating a “rich and holistic learning experience for our children.”
“80% to 100% of our parents are logging into Educa every day to engage with their child’s learning. We get wonderful feedback, home observations and input into our learning program,” she says.
3. The program won’t let you track or report
Whether your service is a business, community-run, or part of a local government service, chances are you’ll have to report on key performance indicators or the like. Engagement with parents and the community is such indicator. How can you improve engagement if you don’t measure it?
Trying new engagement ideas and approaches is great, but you need to see if they have an impact. Your software should allow you to easily access information such as parent interaction on your portfolio site and even which parents have or haven’t been on the site. Parents who aren’t visiting the portfolio are missing out. Your service needs to target them to give them a gentle nudge to become more actively involved in their child’s learning. That’s why your software needs to alert you when parents aren’t engaging.
Maybe the reason they’re not engaging is that it’s too much of a hassle. Does your current software company offer parents and families free online workshops on how to use the system?
4. Too complicated for teachers to capture learning
The temptation is to buy one software that does everything. But that inevitably means lots of clicks to do anything. Teachers are busy. They don’t need lots of clicks, they need simplicity. Something quick and reliable that takes them to the things they do most often on the computer daily – observe, plan, and share with families
Ideally, the program you choose for your service will train your staff through free online workshops and webinars when it suits your organisation and they won’t even need to leave your site.
5. Can’t customise to meet your service’s individual needs
Your service is distinctive and your software needs to reflect that. The software you use helps showcase your quality practice approach to stand out from the competition. If that program only offers you a standard template and restricts you on tailoring it to your needs, this could hamper your business. You need to be able to promote your centre’s uniqueness, its philosophy and unique value proposition to parents. For example, welcome videos for new families and individual private digital portfolios help build your service’s professionalism in the eyes of parents.
Maybe your service had a rough journey installing its current software and just isn’t ready to do an overhaul. How about an online platform that offers you free set up and support – including unlimited phone and email help – while you transition from your old system? Educa offers that. Get in touch for a free buyers’ guide.
Consider starting a free 15-day free trial with Educa. Start the journey here.